2016 was a challenging year for many students in South Africa, amid the various tertiary institution protests throughout the country. The Fees Must Fall student movement gained new life in 2016, leaving many students in the lurch as universities, government and students worked towards the resolution of the education funding crisis.
For many students, this also meant that they may have struggled to access educational material as universities had to resort to sending course material to students to access off-campus.
In South Africa, data costs are exorbitant and the digital divide is quite wide as a result. Many people are unable to access the internet due to high data costs. For many students who live this reality, having access to internet on campus is their main way of accessing their study material.
Mobile operators MTN, Cell C and Telkom offered South African students relief in the form of free data.
More about free data from MTN and Telkom to university websites:
In 2016, Telkom announced that it will zero-rate access to university websites amid protests. This was introduced as a way to make it easier for university students to access course materials during disruptions.
The offer was designed to allow universities to provide free access to academic content for students, even if they’d run out of data or airtime.
MTN Chief Executive Officer Mteto Nyati said:
“As MTN, we are mindful of the backlog that students and academic institutions are facing and we believe that this gesture will help to maintain continuity and expedite access to much-needed educational content.”
Telkom announced that “during this critical period, Telkom has taken a decision to waive the data consumption costs until the end of the academic year. Students who need to work off-site can therefore do so even without the need to fund these costs themselves”.